The original Roosevelt Island aerial tramway - the first tram in the country to be used for urban transportation – was opened in May 1976. The tram was originally developed as a temporary mode of transit, while Island residents awaited the completion of the Island’s subway link. By the time the subway station finally opened, in 1990, the tram had become a popular and necessary mode of transportation. The tram continued to operate, serving two million passengers annually, for a total of 34 years – double its projected service life of 17 years. The tram was shut down in March 2010 for a complete renovation.
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) of the State of New York, a New York State Public Benefit Corporation responsible for the operation and development of Roosevelt Island, owns the aerial tramway system. Currently, approximately 12-14 thousand residents live on the Island, which was developed as a planned community pursuant to a 1969 ground lease and General Development Plan (GDP) between the City and State of New York.